Farmer’s Engineering

cultivatorI was, for much of my life, a perfectionist. Straight lines, even spaces, all nice and tidy. Perfect. 
Many years ago, I had the opportunity to help a buddy bring in a wheat harvest after his father had passed. I had never driven a tractor or a combine – both the size of a modest home. We were in the middle of the northern Montana wheat belt with not another soul for 10 miles in any direction. But, there was a ton of work to be done while waiting for the perfect day to start pulling in the wheat.
One task we had to tackle was shooting anhydrous ammonia (gaseous fertilizer) into fallow fields to prepare them for seeding and future crops. This required the construction of a mechanism that could be attached to a massive rig carrying a tank and pumps that would distribute the gas to injectors attached to the each of the 60 blades stretched across the back the cultivator, injecting the gas into the soil behind each blade as it was dragged across thousands of acres of farmland.
The idea was to weld short metal tubes to rectangular straps of metal, then drill the strap to run a bolt through and thereby attaching to the plow blades, then run flexible tubing to each of these contraptions from a central pump/tank that was also attached to the plow. This was accomplished by salvaging scraps from a pile of metal that had likely been a fixture of the farmyard since its inception a hundred plus years earlier.
I had never welded so, my job was to cut the pieces to the correct length and get them ready to weld. Still the perfectionist, I cut each piece very precisely and took the time to polish each part, remove rough edges, smooth the corners, etc. Meanwhile, waiting impatiently while I prepared each piece to perfection was my buddy, standing in the sun wearing protective clothing and mask and sweating. 
Clearly baffled by what I was doing, he blurts out – “What the fuck are you doing? We are going to be dragging this shit through the dirt for miles. It doesn’t need to be perfect.”
Call it the difference between aerospace engineering and good ole fashioned farmers’ engineering. If it is going to be dragged through the dirt, it doesn’t need to be perfect. If it needs to fly, it likely does. 
Know the difference and don’t squander your time on the former.

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